During the Middle Ages, both Muslim and Jewish scholars displayed a great interest in the study of meteora, a term that covered a wide variety of phenomena, some of which we would describe today as astronomical or seismological rather than as meteorological. Their principal source was Aristotle's Meteorology, which, in the commonly accepted order of learning, was the fourth of his treatises on natural philosophy. The topics investigated by Aristotle are the stratification of the atmosphere, cloud formation, the Milky Way and comets, all forms of precipitation (rain, snow, hail, etc.), and rivers and springs (Book I); seas, winds, earthquakes, and thunder and lightning (Book II); and whirlwinds, thunderbolts, halos, rainbows, and rods (Book III). Aristotle's explanations of these phenomena are based on his theory of exhalation: The moist and the dry exhalations that are constantly drawn up from the earth by the heat of the sun generate these phenomena. The subject matter of Book IV – the effects of heat and cold on various bodies and the formation of homogeneous bodies – has little or no connection to the preceding books.
Medieval Arabic philosophers and scholars referred to this discipline as “the upper phenomena” (al-āthār al-ʿulwiyya). Their views are found in a considerable number of treatises, encyclopedic texts, and adab works. The history of the study of meteorology in the Arabic tradition was recently surveyed by Paul Lettinck. He examined the reception-history and development of Aristotle's Meteorology and its Greek commentators, starting with its translation into Arabic in the ninth century, continuing with the writings of Muslim philosophers such as al-Kindī, Ibn Sīnā and his pupils, Ibn Bājja, and Ibn Rushd, and the meteorological sections of some medieval Arabic encyclopedias.